Put that cheeseburger down! Now! And while we're at it, step back very slowly with your grease-soaked hands in full view, away from the pizza. It's for your own good — and Tampa's civic image.
Well, it happened again.
Recently, Men's Health magazine, which is dedicated to all things boring, decreed that St. Petersburg was the most depressing place to live in the United States. And just as Tampa was getting ready to gloat about its sister city across Tampa Bay being a more dreadful place to reside than those devil-may-care garden spots like Fargo, N.D., Erie, Pa., and Bridgeport, Conn., three wrist-slitting-in-waiting municipalities, it turned out the same publication didn't think too much of Tampa either. It rated the city the 97th most likely locale to live with a sense of doom.
It was probably the passing charms of Tampa's annual Gasparilla tribute to wanton debauchery that pushed it out of contention for the top slot.
Now Men's Fitness, which is dedicated to sweating, has determined that Tampa is the fifth-fattest, gut-busting burg in all the nation, only lagging behind Houston, Detroit, Cleveland and Memphis.
How proud we all should be. We're No. 5. (Belch!)
Precisely how Men's Fitness, which is dedicated to show-offs who can do push-ups with their noses, arrived at Tampa's indictment as the fifth-ranked big fat pig city in the nation isn't entirely clear.
But considering that the recent Florida State Fair featured such culinary delights as deep-fried bubble gum, cheeseburgers served between glazed doughnuts, and deep-fried fat wrapped in lard and sprinkled with sugar before deep frying again in Red Bull and served on a plate of bacon garnished with a Big Mac and pork rinds, it's possible the magazine arrived at a slight misunderstanding of our eating habits.
Jacques Pépin's Art of Cooking this was not.
It also probably doesn't help that the city's official logo is a defibrillator.
Of course Tampanians love their food. The city is home to one of the great world-class eateries — Bern's Steak House.
And can anything start a heated argument more quickly than a debate over who serves the best Cuban sandwich?
We also can probably agree that Tampa has embraced the burgeoning food truck culture with more enthusiasm than if the Bucs, Rays and Lightning all won their respective championships in the same year.
It is also noteworthy that while downtown Tampa is enjoying something of a rebirth, almost all the new businesses opening in the area are (burp) restaurants. You may not be able to find too many places to buy a toothbrush, but if you're looking for a French, Greek, Mexican or Italian meal, simply begin at the intersection of Madison and Franklin and take your pick.
Or perhaps Men's Fitness, which is dedicated to narcissistic males who think six-pack abs are the cat's pajamas, never stopped to think that Tampa residents are such Falstaffian piles of love handles because we're so depressed and have turned to the solace of ribs, gumbo, grouper sandwiches and beer for consolation.
The good news here is that not many Tampa denizens will likely get too lathered up over the opinion of Men's Fitness, which is dedicated to the banality of a pulse rate.
Who has time to read such silliness when you're busy trying to make a reservation at the Columbia Restaurant? You can take this health thing only so far, you know.